North Korea attacks South Korea

North Korea shelled a South Korean island, killing two and wounding 19.  South Korea has mobilized its military and is threatening retaliation.

The massive artillery barrage launched by North Korea on Tuesday forced its southern neighbor into a state of emergency, with fighter jets put on high alert and the Seoul government threatening “stern retaliation.”

An estimated 1,700 civilian residents of the area shelled by North Korea escaped to bunkers, while South Korean President Lee Myung-bak convened an emergency meeting of security ministers. Television footage showed plumes of smoke rising from the island of Yeonpyeong, which lies near the disputed maritime border separating North and South Korea.

Officials said the North had fired an estimated 200 artillery shells onto Yeonpyeong, which lies in the Yellow Sea about 72 miles west of Seoul and seven miles off the North Korean mainland. Most of the shells landed on a military base, killing two South Korean marines, wounding at least 19 other people and setting more than 60 buildings ablaze.

The South returned fire with about 80 shells from its own howitzers.

In an official statement, government spokesman Hong Sang-pyo called the North’s action a “clear military provocation.” In the United States, a White House spokesman said President Obama was “outraged” by North Korea’s “provocative” action, adding that the nation stands by South Korea.

via North Korea fires artillery at South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Richard

    Ohhhh . . . Our President is “outraged.” I’m sure the North Koreans despots are shaking in their boots.

  • Richard

    Ohhhh . . . Our President is “outraged.” I’m sure the North Koreans despots are shaking in their boots.

  • Tom Hering

    “I’m sure the North Koreans despots are shaking in their boots.”

    Obama commands about 30,000 troops in South Korea. And he’s not unwilling to do things like a Naval show of strength – or increasing deadly drone missions. Never underestimate anyone in power.

  • Tom Hering

    “I’m sure the North Koreans despots are shaking in their boots.”

    Obama commands about 30,000 troops in South Korea. And he’s not unwilling to do things like a Naval show of strength – or increasing deadly drone missions. Never underestimate anyone in power.

  • SKPeterson

    I’ve always wondered why we don’t unleash the Japanese. Not that they’re too interested, but if any country could go nuclear in a matter of months it would be Japan. Nothing like counter posing the potential of a nuclear Japan to get China to put the vice grips on their boy in Pyongyang.

  • SKPeterson

    I’ve always wondered why we don’t unleash the Japanese. Not that they’re too interested, but if any country could go nuclear in a matter of months it would be Japan. Nothing like counter posing the potential of a nuclear Japan to get China to put the vice grips on their boy in Pyongyang.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Richard (@1), do you have a point?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Richard (@1), do you have a point?

  • DonS

    This is a potentially dangerous provocation, coming during a transition in leadership in the north. It does appear to be a response to military exercises in the south, so perhaps it will not escalate at present, but it is a definite warning.

    Job one is to re-evaluate our policy there to ensure that our 37,000 troops in South Korea are protected/supported or removed from danger. One or the other. Right now, they are in grave danger, as they are located just south of the DMZ.

  • DonS

    This is a potentially dangerous provocation, coming during a transition in leadership in the north. It does appear to be a response to military exercises in the south, so perhaps it will not escalate at present, but it is a definite warning.

    Job one is to re-evaluate our policy there to ensure that our 37,000 troops in South Korea are protected/supported or removed from danger. One or the other. Right now, they are in grave danger, as they are located just south of the DMZ.

  • Richard

    tODD,
    My “point” is that a mere expression of outrage to regime despots such as those in charge of North Korea accomplishes nothing to deter them from further atrocities–as it didn’t deter the Hitlers or Stalins. And, Tom, I don’t underestimate those in power–our President may be an exception to this rule, though.

  • Richard

    tODD,
    My “point” is that a mere expression of outrage to regime despots such as those in charge of North Korea accomplishes nothing to deter them from further atrocities–as it didn’t deter the Hitlers or Stalins. And, Tom, I don’t underestimate those in power–our President may be an exception to this rule, though.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    But Richard (@6), as the article makes clear, Obama has already gone beyond “a mere expression of outrage” in his response:

    President Obama “strongly condemned” the North Korean attack in a phone call to Lee Tuesday night, the White House said. Obama told Lee that “the United States stands shoulder to shoulder with our close friend and ally,” and the two leaders pledged to hold joint military and training exercises in coming days.

    You’re acting as if all Obama has done is to write a strongly-worded letter, as if all matters of diplomacy should have results evident to the average American’s eyes within a day of any incident.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    But Richard (@6), as the article makes clear, Obama has already gone beyond “a mere expression of outrage” in his response:

    President Obama “strongly condemned” the North Korean attack in a phone call to Lee Tuesday night, the White House said. Obama told Lee that “the United States stands shoulder to shoulder with our close friend and ally,” and the two leaders pledged to hold joint military and training exercises in coming days.

    You’re acting as if all Obama has done is to write a strongly-worded letter, as if all matters of diplomacy should have results evident to the average American’s eyes within a day of any incident.

  • Richard

    No, tODD, I’m not. I’m stating that we should be dealing with North Korea in ways that deter a regime that has consistently thumbed its nose at the international community, violated its citizens’ basic human rights, and killed other citizens without impunity beyond hollow communiques. What matters is the impact on the North Korean “leaders”–not that on the average American. I expect this will have zero impact.

  • Richard

    No, tODD, I’m not. I’m stating that we should be dealing with North Korea in ways that deter a regime that has consistently thumbed its nose at the international community, violated its citizens’ basic human rights, and killed other citizens without impunity beyond hollow communiques. What matters is the impact on the North Korean “leaders”–not that on the average American. I expect this will have zero impact.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “I’m stating that we should be dealing with North Korea in ways that deter a regime … beyond hollow communiques” (@8). And I have already pointed out to you how Obama’s plans go beyond “hollow communiques”.

    But what do you have in mind? What actions should we take, and when should we (have) take(n) them?

    “I expect this will have zero impact.” You expect what will have “zero impact”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “I’m stating that we should be dealing with North Korea in ways that deter a regime … beyond hollow communiques” (@8). And I have already pointed out to you how Obama’s plans go beyond “hollow communiques”.

    But what do you have in mind? What actions should we take, and when should we (have) take(n) them?

    “I expect this will have zero impact.” You expect what will have “zero impact”?

  • Tom Hering

    “The U.S. military announced Wednesday it is sending the USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group to Korean waters to take part in a joint U.S.-South Korean naval exercise, one day after North Korea bombarded a populated South Korean island near the disputed maritime border.” – Stars and Stripes, November 24th.

    The official announcement said the exercise was planned before the shelling of Yeonpyeong. In other words: we show our resolve to defend South Korea, but deny we’re being confrontational. The result: the new Dear Leader gets the message, but is allowed to save face if he backs off (having established his creds with the shelling).

  • Tom Hering

    “The U.S. military announced Wednesday it is sending the USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group to Korean waters to take part in a joint U.S.-South Korean naval exercise, one day after North Korea bombarded a populated South Korean island near the disputed maritime border.” – Stars and Stripes, November 24th.

    The official announcement said the exercise was planned before the shelling of Yeonpyeong. In other words: we show our resolve to defend South Korea, but deny we’re being confrontational. The result: the new Dear Leader gets the message, but is allowed to save face if he backs off (having established his creds with the shelling).

  • Stephen

    The size of our Navy is vast. When 9/11 happened, a friend of mine was aboard a ship as a chaplain off the coast of Greece. They barely missed a beat. I feel certain that all the necessary plans are in place for dealing with North Korea using our Navy should things get too rowdy. Tom’s assessment @ 10 is probably on the money to some extent. When the number killed becomes 2000 instead of 2, then we might expect something like planes in the air, bombs dropping and missiles launching. Otherwise, seems to me we have bigger fish to fry.

  • Stephen

    The size of our Navy is vast. When 9/11 happened, a friend of mine was aboard a ship as a chaplain off the coast of Greece. They barely missed a beat. I feel certain that all the necessary plans are in place for dealing with North Korea using our Navy should things get too rowdy. Tom’s assessment @ 10 is probably on the money to some extent. When the number killed becomes 2000 instead of 2, then we might expect something like planes in the air, bombs dropping and missiles launching. Otherwise, seems to me we have bigger fish to fry.

  • Name: Mark

    The North therefore has three major interlocutors who are fixed quantities. SK, Japan, and the US are all willing to show force as a deterrent but would prefer to buy peace. It has another, China, which like South Korea and Japan stands to get a lot of grief if the regime goes under, but is far less committed than South Korea. Therefore, China is the swing factor. They’re involved but nowhere near as much as other Koreans are.

  • Name: Mark

    The North therefore has three major interlocutors who are fixed quantities. SK, Japan, and the US are all willing to show force as a deterrent but would prefer to buy peace. It has another, China, which like South Korea and Japan stands to get a lot of grief if the regime goes under, but is far less committed than South Korea. Therefore, China is the swing factor. They’re involved but nowhere near as much as other Koreans are.


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